NYSUT members joined hundreds of Capital Region unionists Wednesday for a march and rally in support of United Auto Workers in Green Island, who have refused to accept a punitive contract offer from Honeywell Aerospace.
The 42 members of UAW Local 1508 walked out five weeks ago and have watched replacement workers being bused into the factory as they picket outside.
Chants of "Scabs go home!" rose in front of the block-long brick building as unionists from NYSUT; from United University Professions – the largest NYSUT higher education affiliate, which represents faculty and staff at the State University of New York – and from dozens of other labor organizations gathered.
The presence of NYSUT members was cited by speakers at the podium, as a long list of supporters was read. NYSUT members said they felt compelled to show their support.
"I’m haunted by the ghost of Kate Mullany and her courageous spirit,” said NYSUT board member Anthony McCann, from nearby Saratoga County. “I think we have a moral reason to speak out.”
Kate Mullany, a revered early labor leader and a beloved figure in the Capital Region’s labor history, founded the all-women Collar Laundry Union in Troy in 1864. Her Troy home, not far from the Honeywell plant, is now a National Historic Site.
McCann also invoked Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor, when he added that, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
The striking workers make brake pads at the factory and have turned down the company's latest offer because it hiked health insurance costs considerably, froze the pension plan and provided no cost-of-living increases.
A number of federal and state lawmakers pledged their support for the strikers and Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, told the strikers that his staff remained ready to provide assistance to the Honeywell workers. He also told them he understood how stressful it was to be on strike.
"You fought for a fair contract, and now it's everyone's fight," Cilento said. "You'll be successful because we stand together. We just have to outlast them for one day."